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Cloudy Sea
"[There's] a difference in wind currents, and the temperature changes ... Once you get out of the loop [of circling around enemy fighters] and into the cloud, it isn't always necessarily safe. Sometimes more dangerous. So what's new is that judgement call and shift in strategy you have to make yourself."
Kazutoki Kono on clouds[1]

Clouds are condensed masses of liquid water suspended in Earth's atmosphere. They are formed by the saturation of air, either through water evaporating from the surface or from the air getting colder.

Understanding clouds is vitally important for real-life pilots, but the Ace Combat franchise has historically provided little attention to clouds. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is the first game to feature gameplay differences depending on the cloud cover.

Description

Basics

Flying Above the Clouds

Cloud cover will vary on a per-mission basis in Ace Combat 7. Some missions will even feature realtime weather changes as they proceed.[2]

Planes can enter clouds to gain a degree of stealth. This includes enemy aircraft, allied aircraft, and the player. The amount of stealth provided will depend on the density of the cloud.[3] However, vision will be obscured when flying inside a cloud; denser clouds may result in a complete loss of visibility.[3] Players need to remain mindful of terrain as well as other units when losing visibility.[1]

Icing

Clouds are made of condensed water, so as a player flies inside a cloud, water will accumulate on the aircraft. It will quickly dissipate upon exiting the cloud.[3] If a lot of moisture gathers on the aircraft, it can develop into ice, and too much ice will force the player into a stall.[1]

Lightning

Lightning Strike Rafale M AC7

Lightning striking a Rafale M

Certain types of clouds will spawn thunderstorms. If the player flies inside a thunderstorm, they risk getting hit by a lightning strike, which will cause distortion in the HUD; the radar and gauges will become unreliable. In addition, the HUD containers for other units will disappear, so the player must rely on visual guidance to destroy enemies and avoid crashing into other aircraft. After a short passage of time, the HUD will return to normal.[4]

Pre-AC7 History

Rising High Clouds

Flying above the clouds in Ace Combat 2

"We could lose them in the clouds... but it's too dangerous."
Hans Grimm[5]

Clouds have been featured in the Ace Combat series since the precursor arcade game, Air Combat, in the late 1980s. Here, clouds only appeared as part of the skybox, and could not be flown through.

Air Combat on the PlayStation was the first game to introduce clouds as 2D sprites. Ace Combat 2 focused on them a lot more heavily, and even introduced a mechanic whereby flying above a certain altitude would show an "ocean" of clouds below the player's aircraft, to emulate its distance from the ground.

ACE 6 Clouds

Flying above the clouds in Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation

Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies was the first game to feature detailed mission briefings, one section of which would inform the player on the amount of clouds over the mission area. This was also later featured in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, and Ace Combat Infinity.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon presented more story importance on clouds. They were mentioned during missions when enemy aircraft would use them to hide, and they were also used during Home Front as an ambush tactic. However, this was a scripted event, as the clouds were still simply 2D sprites.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Goes Back To Its Roots. GameSpot. Published on January 26, 2017. Retrieved on January 28, 2017.
  2. 次世代空戰射擊遊戲《空戰奇兵 7》製作人河野一聰訪談 搶先一探開發進度和遊戲細節. 巴哈姆特電玩資訊站. Published on December 22, 2015. Retrieved on January 28, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 File:Ace Combat 7 - VR Demo Gameplay.
  4. "『エースコンバット7 スカイズ・アンノウン』インタビュー&プレイリポート インシー渓谷のミッションには悪魔が潜む!?" [""Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown" Interview & Play Report - The devil lurks in the Yinshi Valley mission!?"]. Famitsu. Published on 25 August 2018. Retrieved on 25 August 2018.
  5. 8492, Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.